From Eastern Finland comes Mammoth which is most definitely an acquired taste. A bizarre meta-play, we follow Jessica and Fergus - a dysfunctional couple - who have lost their bond with their son and wish to stage a play to understand better why they have failed as parents, while their child will watch from a webcam. Or so I was led to believe, because I'm not sure that happened. The son was barely mentioned for the rest of the piece and, instead, things fell out like so: Jessica was continually talking to an actor dressed as a 'therapy dog' called Baxter, who could only be understood by her. Baxter ran away and then came in stark naked. Jessica and Baxter then sing a song called 'Mammoth' in front of a powerful fan, after which Fergus returned and gave Birthday-Suit-Baxter a sausage which he duly ate. Both Baxter and Jessica then climbed into a tent, followed by Moira (Jessica's mother) who who wearing a purple lycra onesie and spraying people with a water pistol. Finally, Jessica grew a tail.

At one point Moira says of the audience "People are obviously deeply confused". You're damn right, Moira, I was! Now I have never been married, nor do I have children and so I might suffer from inexperience, except I doubt it because this play is anything but mature. There is incessant chat about weeing in one’s trousers, long periods where nothing happens, and parts where the actors talk over each other. Jessica's lines were so often delivered to the floor that it sometimes felt like the audience had been completely forgotten. Why the nudity? A dog still has hair and since we don't really think of dogs being naked the absence of clothes added nothing. I believe the point of it was that some people belong in a different age and that today we ignore nature in favour of a constant search for wifi or phone signal. I for one belong in the 1940s and felt that if there had been more of a focus on this theme it might have provided a redeeming feature.

Unfortunately, though, the cast really don't do themselves a favour by being in this play. I may not be married myself but my parents are and I have met hundreds of couples who deal with their problems in ways that exclude water pistols and therapy dogs (whatever they are). It is with a heavy heart, then, that I report that Mammoth is a colossal failure.


The Blurb

Mammoth is simultaneously hilarious and melancholic. It deals with our human relationship with nature and fellow creatures, but also with technology. The play gives us a nudge: development and progression are not always synonymous.